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To be able to enjoy a relaxing soak in the bathtub to relieve aching bones and muscles is a joy. For the elderly or for those with impaired mobility, it can sometimes only be a dream. They fear they will slip and cause themselves injury, or worse, not be able to get in or out of the bathtub at all.
The answer to these concerns are bathtub grab bars. These can be installed in the bathroom and in the bathtub and they can assist with tub transfers, allowing users to get into and out of the tub more easily as well as helping to reduce the risk of slips and falls.
In this article, you will learn about the different types of grab bars that can be used in the bathroom, and we explain about the important factors you should consider before installing them. We will also cover the best bathtub grab bars and safety rails that can allow seniors to enjoy a warm relaxing bath safely and independently.
Bathtub Grab Bars Comparison Chart
Vive Metal Grab Bar
Moen RA8716D1GBN Angled Grab Bar
Moen L-Shaped Bathroom Grab Bar
Safe-er-Grip Suction Grab Bar
Vaunn Bathtub Safety Rail
Vive Heavy Duty Bathtub Rail
12", 16", 24"
24" x 36"
14.75" (height of handle above bathtub)
15" (Highest point on handle)
Plastic with textured rubber grip
Plastic with textured grip
What is a Bathtub Grab Bar/Shower Standing Handle?
A bathtub grab bar, also known as a standing handle, is a supportive rail that attaches usually to the bathroom wall and can assist a user in transferring more easily and safely into and out of the bathtub. It also provides the bather with additional support when sitting or standing while washing.
Grab rails are a simple and cost effective way of increasing safety within the bathroom. They can help to reduce slips and falls on wet slippery floors, and eliminate the risk of bathroom related injuries.
Grab rails are particularly suited for anyone with reduced mobility and those suffering with impaired balance who are unsteady on their feet, and find getting into and out of a bathtub a struggle. They allow users who are less agile to wash themselves independently, without having to rely on a caregiver or loved one for assistance.
Types of Bathtub Grab Bars
Bathtub grab bars come in a range of different designs, shapes, sizes and materials to suit all needs. They can be fitted horizontally, vertically or diagonally, some need to be permanently secured to the bathroom wall. While others are removable and can easily be fitted in a matter of seconds without requiring any tools, and can conveniently be taken with you and used elsewhere.
Some of the most popular types of bathtub grab bars include:
Standard Grab Bars
A regular straight grab bar is the most common type of grab bar that can be found in the bathroom. These come in different lengths, diameters sizes and they are usually constructed from either metal (aluminum, chrome, stainless steel) or plastic.
They can either have a smooth surface, while others have a textured or non-slip surface, which offers better safety as it provides the user with a better grip, as it helps to prevent the user’s hand from slipping off the grab bar when it is wet.
These types of grab bars need to be secured permanently to the bathroom wall either in a horizontal, vertical or in a diagonal position, depending on the needs of the user.
Angled Grab Bars
An angled grab bar is a combination of a horizontal and vertical grab bar in one and is commonly angled at either 45° or 90° (L-shaped). This type of grab bar offers a variety of gripping options. It is particularly suited for anyone suffering with painful arthritic hands, or for those with a limited grip.
The horizontal part allows the arm to rest more naturally on the bar, which helps to reduce the strain on the user’s arm and the wrist. While the vertical part assists the user in lowering and raising themselves into and out of the bathtub.
Suction Cup Grab Bars
This type of removable grab bar attaches to smooth flat non-porous surfaces such as tiled walls using suction cups without requiring any additional tools.
The main benefit of this type of grab bar is it is extremely easy to fit and requires no holes to be drilled in order to install one. To fit one, you need to unlock the vacuum levers located on either ends of the grab bar and press the suction cups against the surface where you would like it fitted to, and finally press both levers down.
Suction cup grab bars can easily be repositioned. They are also portable so you can take it with you when you go on vacation or when you stay with friends or family. They are ideally suited for anyone suffering from a temporary condition or those recovering from recent surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement. They are also suitable for anyone who is living in rented accommodation where the tenancy agreement does not permit you to drill holes into walls.
One of the drawbacks of suction cup grab bars is they can loosen over time and they have a lower weight capacity, so they should only be used to help maintain balance in the bathroom. They should not be used to support the user’s entire body weight.
Bathtub Clamp Grab Rail
Unlike the other grab bars covered so far that attach to the wall, a bathtub clamp rail attaches to the side of the bathtub. The rail is easy to fit and attaches to the bathtub using a self-tightening clamp without requiring any tools.
A clamp grab rail is ideally suited for anyone with reduced mobility that needs a sturdy handle to hold onto when transferring into and out of the bathtub to help steady themselves, in order to reduce the risk of trips and falls.
The grab rail is easily removable and it can be repositioned in a matter of seconds. Just like a suction cup grab bar, a clamp grab rail will need to be retightened regularly to ensure it does not become loose.
Where Should I Mount Bathtub Grab Bars?
Deciding on the correct placement of a grab bar is vital. An incorrectly positioned grab bar may not provide the user with adequate support and it could even increase the risk of a fall, especially if the person has to stretch excessively over to reach it.
Before installing a grab bar in the bathroom, we would recommend that you first perform a dry run with the specific user. By observing how the person maneuvers into and out of the bathtub, you will get a good sense of where they are struggling, and where additional support may be required.
While there are no strict rules as to where grab bars should be positioned in the bathtub, we would recommend that you take the following factors into consideration:
Location & Orientation
The layout of the bathroom, the height and shape of the bathtub and the required support that the user requires, are all contributory factors that will determine the location where grab bars should be installed, in order to prove most beneficial.
At a bare minimum, we would recommend that you install at least two grab bars in the following locations:
- On the outside of the bathub– install a vertical grab bar on the wall next to the outside of the bathtub. This will assist the user in transferring safely into and out of the bathtub and will help to prevent slips and falls. Generally a grab bar that measures 12″, 16″ or 18″ in length should be adequate in such situations.
- Inside the bathtub – install a horizontal grab bar just above bathtub on the inside wall. This can be used by the user to help lower themselves into the bathtub as well as helping them out after they have finished bathing. A longer grab bar that measures between 32″ to 48″ will prove more beneficial than a shorter one in these circumstances. If the user has limited hand dexterity or suffers with an impaired grip, position the grab bar at an angle. This will allow the user to rest their arm on the bar while they are lowering or pulling themselves up, thus helping to reduce the strain on their hands and wrists.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recommends that bathroom grab bars should be positioned at a minimum height of between 33 – 36 inches from the bathroom floor. This should be used as a general guideline, although you should also take into consideration the user’s height.
Always ensure before fitting a grab bar that it is at a suitable height for the user. Make sure they are able to reach it without having to struggle, otherwise it may cause them to lose their balance if it’s located too high or too low for them.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Bathtub Grab Bar
When purchasing a bathroom grab bar, consider these important factors to ensure that you choose one that will prove most beneficial as well as keep the user safe:
Ensure the grab bar you’re considering on purchasing is able to withstand the user’s weight, otherwise it could prove unsafe.
ADA recommends that a grab bar should have a minimum weight capacity of at least 250 lbs, you should therefore avoid ones with a lower capacity.
Removable grab bars such as suction cup ones and ones that clamp onto the bathtub generally have lower weight capacities. These should only be used to help maintain balance and not to support the user’s entire weight.
Grab bars are available that have higher weight capacities of up to 500 lbs. These are suitable for bariatric users and for those who require increased support such as users with severely impaired mobility.
Bathtub grab bars come in range of different lengths ranging anywhere from 12” up to 48”.
Shorter grab bars (12″ – 18″) are better suited to help users transfer into and out of the bathtub. While longer grab bars (24″ to 48″), offer more support and are usually a better option when the user needs extra leverage to help lower themselves into the bathtub, as well as get to their feet after bathing.
Bathtub grab bars generally come in two diameter sizes, either 1¼ or 1½ inches. Thinner grab bars are better suited for anyone with arthritic hands as they are usually more comfortable and easier to grip than a thicker bar.
When purchasing a grab bar, ensure that it complies with ADA standards so that you can be certain that it meets relevant safety specifications. This will offer you peace of mind that it can safely be used in the bathroom and it won’t prove dangerous.
To reduce the risk of slipping while handling a grab bar, choose one that either has a non-slip surface or one that has a textured/ribbed handle. These will be easier to grip, even with wet hands.
If the user has impaired eyesight or suffers with dementia, choose a grab bar that comes in a contrasting color that stands out from the rest of the bathroom décor and walls. A grab bar in a bright color will be easier to see and users are less likely to accidentally miss it.
Best Bathtub Grab bars
1. Vive Metal Grab Bar
Vive Metal Grab Bar
An economical bathtub grab rail with weight capacity that comes in a range of available sizes that can help to prevent the risk of slips and falls during bathtub transfers.
The stainless steel grab bar from Vive is a good choice if you’re looking for a reasonably priced supportive wall-mounted handle that can assist in getting you into and out of the tub safely as well as providing you with some extra support in order to help prevent slips and falls.
It comes in a choice of 3 available sizes including a 12 inches, a 16 inches and a 24 inches. It can be mounted either horizontally, vertically or diagonally depending on your particular needs.
The grab bar comes with all the necessary hardware that you will need in order to mount it to your bathroom wall including 6 x 2″ screws and 6 x anchors. With the included hardware, it can be fitted to a range of surfaces including plaster walls, acrylic, fiberglass and wall studs. It can also be fitted to ceramic tiles as well, although you will need to purchase separate hardware for this.
The bar is constructed from stainless steel which means it is corrosion-resistant so you won’t need to worry about it rusting, and with its sturdy build it has a good weight capacity of 440 lbs. The handle measures 1.25″ in diameter so it can easily be gripped even by users with limited hand dexterity.
- Weight capacity: 440 lbs
- Available lengths: 12″, 16″, 24″
- Handle diameter size: 1.25″
- Material: stainless steel
2. Moen RA8716D1GBN 16-Inch Angled Grab Bar
The Moen RA8716D1GBN 16 inch angled grab bar could be the perfect solution if you’re looking for one that is suitable to install in a smaller bathroom. The handle has a 135 degree turn which provides the user with good leverage, helping them into the bathtub as well as assisting them out afterwards while reducing the strain on the user’s arm or wrists. With it being ADA compliant, you can be confident that it will keep users safe and avoid any unnecessary accidents.
With its brushed nickel finish, it will bring a stylish look and feel and it won’t look out of place in any bathroom. The grab bar is well-constructed and with Moen’s limited lifetime warranty you can be assured it’s unlikely that it will need replacing anytime soon.
It has a weight capacity of 500 lbs making it suitable for bariatric users and for anyone with severely reduced mobility who needs a grab bar to support their full weight, in order to help keep them stable while they are on their feet.
The grab bar can be wall-mounted into any stud wall and it can either be installed on the right or left side interchangeable. It comes with all the necessary hardware in order to mount it to a stud wall. If your bathroom wall does not have studs, you can purchase separate SecureMount anchors that will allow you to securely install the grab bar into a hollow wall.
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Length: 16″
- Handle diameter size: 1.25″
- Material: brushed nickel
3. Moen L-Shaped Bathroom Grab Bar
Moen L-Shaped Bathroom Grab Bar
An L-shaped grab bar that is well built and offers a wider area of support. Ideally suited for users who are particularly unstable on their feet and fear falling in the bathtub.
The Moen L-shaped grab bar is ideal for anyone that has impaired balance who could benefit with a wider area of support within the bathtub.
The ADA compliant grab par measures 24″ x 36″ and is designed to be installed on perpendicular walls. As the grab bar covers a greater area along the bathroom wall, it provides increased support and therefore maximises user security, thus helping to reduce any risk of slips and falls.
It has a peened stainless steel grip which makes it easy to hold onto even with wet hands. With its good weight capacity of 500 lbs, you can be confident that it will safely provide maximum support whenever it is needed.
All the necessary hardware is included in order to mount it to wood studs, although optional SecureMount anchors can be purchased separately if you need to mount it to another type of wall. The grab bar has a luxury look and feel so it will bring an attractive look to any type of bathroom.
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs
- Length: 24″ x 36″
- Handle diameter size: 1.5″
- Material: stainless Steel
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant
- Limited lifetime warranty
4. Safe-er-Grip Suction Grab Bar
Safe-er-Grip Suction Grab Bar
A lightweight and portable suction grab bar that can easily be taken with you when stay with friends or family and is suitable to be used in rented housing.
If you’re looking for a lightweight portable grab bar that you can easily take with you when you stay with friends or relatives, or you simply need to fit one in your bathroom but you’re not allowed to drill holes in your rented property, you may want to consider the suction grab bar from Safe-er-Grip.
The grab bar is suitable if you require some assistance with balancing when entering and exiting the bathtub, but you don’t need it to fully support your own body weight. It has a textured rubber grip so it can easily be gripped even with wet slippery hands.
It attaches easily to most flat non-porous surfaces within seconds without needing to drill any holes into your bathroom walls. The suction cups on the device measure 4″ so it provides good suction and it’s unlikely to unattach easily. It is important however to always check before using the device to ensure it not becoming a loose suction, and need reattaching.
All you need to do in order to mount it, is to position it on the bathroom wall or over the bathtub wall and press down and slide the vacuum levers down in order to properly secure it to the surface. If you’re attaching it to a tiled surface, ensure that the tiles measure at least 4″ x 4″ or more.
If you need to take it with you or use it elsewhere, all you need to do is simply release the vacuum levers on either side of the device to release the suction mechanism without the need for any special tools.
- Length: 11.5″
- Material: plastic with textured rubber grip
- Installs onto flat non-porous surfaces
- Easy to install and portable
5. Vaunn Bathtub Safety Rail Grab Bar
If you’re struggling having to maneuver into the tub when you have a bath, this safety rail from Vaunn Medical could provide you with the required assistance and support that you may require.
The bathtub safety rail attaches easily to the tub wall without requiring any special tools or installation. To attach it, all you need to do is slide it over the tub wall and then tighten the width adjustable clamps in order to secure it into place.
The safety rail is suitable for most types of bathtubs (excluding fiberglass surfaces as it could crack) that have a wall thickness of between 3″-7″. To help prevent it from scratching or denting the bathtub, the rail is fitted with padded clamps which also assists in keeping it securely in place while it’s being used.
If you’re looking for a removable grab bar, but you’re worried that a suction grab bar may not be totally safe and may not offer sufficient support, this safety rail from Vaunn could prove a safer option.
The rail is constructed from heavy-duty steel and it has a weight capacity of up to 300 lbs. The rail can comfortably be gripped and it can be used by right or left handed users alike. The handle extends 14″ above the tub providing a sturdy grip to hold onto for safe transfers.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Suitable for tab walls that have 3″-7″ in thickness
- Padded rubber clamp locking mechanism
- Easy to install
- 14.75″ (height of handle above bathtub)
- Steel frame
6. Vive Heavy Duty Bathtub Rail
If you suffer with painful arthritic hands, you will know that gripping objects such as a grab bar can prove particularly painful. Vive has tried to come up with a solution to this problem by designing a bathtub rail that have ergonomic rounded handles that can comfortably and safely be gripped even by users that have limited hand dexterity.
The safety rail is suitable for bathtubs that have a wall thickness ranging between 3.5″-6″ and it is suitable for freestanding baths as well. The width adjustable clamp mechanism is simple to operate and attaches to the tub wall within seconds. The rubber pads helps protects the tub surface from scratches and scuffs, so you will never need to worry about it causing any damage.
The handrail extends 15″ above the tub. There are two handles set at different heights which offers extra leverage and helps the user into and out of the bathtub more easily.
The rail is constructed from plastic which means it will never rust and with its lifetime guarantee you can be assured you’re buying a quality product. The handle is textured which reduces the risk of slips when handling it with wet hands.
With its 300 lbs weight capacity, which exceeds ADA’s requirements, you can be certain that it will provide you with the necessary support that you require to make bathing easier and safer.
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Ergonomic designed handle
- Suitable for bathtub walls that have 3.5″-6″ in thickness
- Available length: 15″ (Highest point on handle)